​11 GHG reduction techs awarded new Alberta funding

A project at Lafarge's Exshaw cement plant involves switching from using natural gas to using waste-derived fuels that would otherwise end up in landfills. Image: Government of Alberta

The Government of Alberta has announced up to $70.2 million in funding for 11 projects developing technologies to reduce GHGs from industrial development.

Seven of these technologies are directly tied to upstream oil and gas production.

The funding, which comes from Alberta’s carbon levy on industrial emitters, is being awarded through Emissions Reductions Alberta’s Industrial Efficiency Challenge.

The challenge was launched in March 2018, designed to implement leading technologies in oil and gas, chemicals and fertilizers, cement and concrete, forestry and agriculture, electricity and manufacturing.

“The 11 projects are anticipated to eliminate more than 5.3 million tonnes of CO2e by 2030 – the equivalent of bringing more than 1,300 wind turbines online,” the province said in a statement Wednesday.

“Significant reductions in operating costs are also expected. If successful, many of these new technologies can be adopted across industrial sectors, leading to further emission reductions and further economic benefits for Albertans.”

Funding will be distributed on a milestone-by-milestone basis, and the progress of each project is reported on until completion, the province said.

Here’s a look at the funded projects, listed in descending order of ERA funding commitment.

1. Energreen Solutions: Strathcona Works - Waste Heat to Power Project

Project value: $70.0 million

ERA funding: $10.0 million

This project will involve the implementation of a heat recovery system at the Rio Tinto / Alcoa Strathcona Works’ (SW) manufacturing facility in Edmonton.

“This system will convert high grade waste heat to approximately 24 MW of emission free electricity via a steam cycle, enabling advanced pollution controls systems to be utilized onsite. By reducing the temperature of flue gasses, an integrated Flue Gas Desulfurization (FGD) system and fabric filter can be implemented to reduce SOx, NOx, and particulate emissions from the facility. Benefits of the project include new revenue streams through electricity sales and GHG credits as well as reductions in air emissions,” ERA says.

“This technology would also allow for a possible production increase at the SW facility. Pending final investment decisions, the zero emissions electricity from the proposed waste heat to power plant will offset higher intensity sources of power from the Alberta electricity grid, providing a steady income stream for the facility, and will reduce the SOx and NOx emissions from the facility.”

The project estimates GHG reductions greater than 100,000 tCO2e/yr once fully implemented.

2. Lafarge Canada: Lower Carbon Fuels Project

Project value: $44.3 million

ERA funding: $10.0 million

This project involves switching from using natural gas at Lafarge’s Exshaw plant to using waste-derived fuels that would otherwise end up in landfills.

“Technologies for fuel handling, processing, and injection will be installed at the site to replace 50 per cent of its natural gas use,” ERA says.

“The implementation at Exshaw will be supported by development of a waste/fuel processing facility in Calgary. This project reduces GHG emission through two mechanisms. Firstly, by displacing the combustion of natural gas onsite through co-firing with waste derived fuel. Secondly, by avoiding emissions of methane from waste materials.”

3. TAQA North: Crossfield Gas Plant Energy Efficiency and GHG Reduction Project

Project value: $34.7 million

ERA funding: $10.0 million

This project will demonstrate the benefits of acid gas injection (AGI) with a potential for localized enhanced gas recovery at the Crossfield Gas Plant.

“The project is expected to improve the sustainability of the gas plant by improving production efficiency and significantly reducing carbon compliance costs,” ERA says.

“The process involves re-injecting acid gas, containing hydrogen sulfide and carbon dioxide, into a defined reservoir to significantly reduce atmospheric emissions. The project will reduce emissions by improving production efficiency, eliminating venting of reservoir carbon dioxide, and eliminating energy consumed in the treatment of acid gas.”

An added benefit will be the reduction of GHG emissions through the optimization of boilers and compression, ERA says. TAQA is developing this project in collaboration with ExxonMobil Canada.

Once implemented, acid gas injection and operational efficiencies are expected to reduce total emissions of the facility by more than 60 per cent. This project estimates GHG emissions reductions by more than 300,000 tCO2e during the first five years of operation.

4. TransCanada: Supercritical CO2 Waste Heat Recovery and Utilization Technology

Project value: $45.6 million

ERA funding: $8.0 million

This project involves the installation of a demonstration waste heat recovery (WHR) generation system at one of TransCanada’s compressor station sites in Alberta.

“The technology is a first-of-a-kind approach in WHR and uses Supercritical Carbon Dioxide (sCO2) as the working fluid to recover waste heat from a gas turbine and convert it to emissions-free electricity,” ERA says.

“This new technology has the potential to achieve the elimination of water use, operational simplicity, minimal environmental impact and an increased heat recovery cycle efficiency. It also creates an additional value stream from what is now a wasted source of energy.”

The project estimates GHG reductions up to 44,000 tCO2e/yr once fully implemented. By creating carbon offsets from the displacement of grid electricity, ERA says this has potential to reduce the facility’s CCIR compliance costs by up to $1.3M/yr.

5. ENMAX Generation Portfolio Inc.: Crossfield Energy Centre Hybrid Fuel Project

Project value: $14.6 million

ERA funding: $7.284 million

Through this project, ENMAX will install Canada’s first Hybrid Electric Gas Turbine, at its Alberta-based Crossfield Energy Centre, ERA says.

“This leading-edge battery storage solution involves the hybridization of an existing natural gas turbine by adding a lithium-ion battery and control system. Using the 10MW battery storage system, the technology will be able to provide electricity to Albertans at near-zero emissions, while supporting the growth of renewables in the province,” ERA says.

“The innovation deployed in the project will eliminate an estimated 274,000 tonnes of GHG emissions a year, the equivalent of removing 59,500 cars from the road annually.”

6. Alberta-Pacific Forest Industries: Kraft Pulp Mill Flue Gas Energy Recovery Project

Project value: $18.9 million

ERA funding: $6.0 million

This project will deploy a heat recovery system at the Al-Pac Kraft Pulp Mill to capture heat from the plant’s flue gas stream.

“The recovered flue gas heat will go into the hot water system for the facility, freeing up steam to generate additional ‘green’ electricity,” ERA says.

“The innovative aspect of this approach is the unique materials that can handle acidic condensate from the flue gas, which have never been installed in a Canadian pulp mill industrial boiler. This technology is expected to reduce energy costs while exporting power to the grid, which also provides additional revenue.”

The electricity generated will displace higher emitting sources on Alberta’s electricity grid, ERA says. Reduced fuel use at the facility will also result in GHG reductions.

The project estimates GHG reductions up to 60,000 to 76,000 tCO2e in the next three to five years.

7. ConocoPhillips Canada: Field Pilot of Multilateral Well Technology to Reduce GHG Intensity of SAGD

Project value: $12.8 million

ERA funding: $6.0 million

This project will use innovative drilling and completion methods and thermal junction technology in existing SAGD vertical wellbores to increase production from a single surface location.

“Thermal junction technology enables the drilling of multiple lateral sections without the need for additional above ground capital,” ERA says.

“The technology should lower costs for infill producer wells and allow for greater deployment. These infill producer wells provide increased bitumen production without additional steam injection, thereby reducing emissions intensity and operating costs per barrel of bitumen.”

This technology reduces GHG emissions on a per barrel basis by increasing the recovery of bitumen (via the multilateral infill wells) with no incremental steam production, ERA says. The pilot is expected to result in a reduction in GHG emissions intensity of 17 per cent.

8. Imperial Oil: Kearl ConDex Flue Gas Heat and Water Recovery Project

Project value: $12.7 million

ERA funding: $6.0 million

ERA says this project will demonstrate ConDex boiler flue gas and water recovery technology at Imperial’s Kearl oilsands mine.

The ConDex technology is designed to reduce GHG emissions by capturing and using exhaust heat otherwise lost to the atmosphere through flue gas streams.

“The technology is a high-performance heat recovery unit that condenses water out of flue gasses to recapture a significant amount of waste heat to be recycled and utilized in the process,” ERA says.

“Key innovations include the heat exchanger design, use of advanced metallurgies to prevent corrosion caused by the acidic nature of condensed flue gasses and integration to optimize heat utilization to maximize fuel reduction.”

Imperial is developing this project in collaboration with COSIA members Teck Resources and Syncrude Canada as well as through the Foresight ARCTIC program.

9. Athabasca Oil Corporation: Energy Intensity Reduction through Flow Control Devices and Non-Combustible Gas

Project value: $8.7 million

ERA funding: $4.336 million

This project will implement flow control devices (FCD) and non-condensable gas (NCG) injection at Athabasca Oil Corporation’s in situ facilities in the Alberta oilsands.

“FCDs are valves installed downhole that improve the inflow distribution of oil along the well, enabling improved recovery without additional steam generation,” ERA says.

“NCG complements this by offsetting some steam injection with gas co-injection that helps develop and insulate the steam chamber, improving the overall efficiency of steam-assisted gravity drainage process.”

The project estimates GHG reductions up to 76,000 tCO2e in the next three to five years, ERA says.

“FDCs are anticipated to reduce steam-oil-ratio by 15 to 20 per cent on a wellpair basis, whereas NCG is a 10 to 15 per cent reduction. Both proposed technologies are applicable to many in situ oilsands operations and are under consideration by several operators.”

10. Suncor Energy: Digital Optimization using Advanced Process Control in an In Situ Facility

Project value: $2.9 million

ERA funding: $1.43 million

This project involves the implementation of a digital optimization technology known as Advanced Process Control (APC) at Suncor’s Firebag and MacKay River in situ oilsands facilities.

“The technology combines algorithms with machine learning and data analytics to enhance process control performance,” ERA says. “Examples of areas where optimization could be implemented include wellpad steam distribution and steam quality in steam generators. By using this technology, multiple processes can be monitored and controlled leading to enhanced performance than would otherwise be possible with traditional control systems.”

The technology is expected to reduce and avoid GHG emissions up to 4 per cent on a per barrel basis. Suncor also says it could reduce per barrel costs by reducing steam generation costs and increasing production up to 4 per cent.

11. Repsol Oil and Gas Canada: Demonstration of the Transition from Hydrocarbons to Inert Gas Technology for Gas Blanketing and Purge in the Gas Processing Industry

Project value: $2.3 million

ERA funding: $1.14 million

ERA explains that at facilities such as the Edson Gas Plant, sales gas (primarily methane) is used in several plant safety functions, notably to purge continuously ignited flare stacks and to blanket low pressure tanks to prevent contamination and air ingress.

The use of methane in these applications leads to continuous flare combustion emissions as well as the venting and purging of methane to the atmosphere.

“Repsol is proposing to implement inert gas technology to replace methane with on-site generated nitrogen in these applications, eliminating the associated emissions,” ERA says.

“This technology will represent the first known retrofit of an operating gas processing facility to use inert gas in Alberta and deploys commercial nitrogen production equipment in an innovative application to demonstrate a transition from hydrocarbon use in the gas processing industry. The project can eliminate tank venting of methane, which is a standard practice for gas plants in Alberta.”

The project estimates GHG reductions up to 10,000 tCO2e in the next three years. The project is also expected to reduce CCIR compliance costs for the facility by roughly $200,000 per year.

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